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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA 
WESTERN DIVISION 



No. 5 : 11-HC-2137-H 



UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 



Petitioner, 



v . 



ORDER 



EARL WEBSTER COX, 



Respondent . 



The United States initiated this action on July 12, 2011, 
seeking to civilly commit Earl Webster Cox as a sexually 
dangerous person under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and 
Safety Act of 2006, 18 U.S.C. §§ 4247-4248 ("Adam Walsh Act"). 
On September 19, 2012, the court conducted an evidentiary 
hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4247(d). The government 
presented the testimony of three expert witnesses: Dr. Joseph 
Plaud, 1 Dr. Heather Ross, and Dr. Jeffrey Davis, all of whom are 
licensed clinical psychologists. 2 In addition, the court 
admitted into evidence various documentary exhibits offered by 

x Dr. Plaud was selected by respondent to conduct a mental 
health examination but was called to testify on behalf of the 
government . 

2 The government also called as a witness Karen Paynter, a 
case worker at FCI Butner and the records custodian for Adams 
Walsh Act cases. 



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the parties, including the reports of forensic evaluations 
conducted by the expert witnesses, court records, and prison 
records. The parties have each filed proposed findings of fact 
and conclusions of law, and this matter is ripe for 
adjudication. 

BACKGROUND 

Earl Webster Cox is a fifty- five-year-old male who has been 
in federal custody since January 2003. At the time this action 
was initiated, Cox was serving a 120 -month term of imprisonment 
for the attempted enticement of a minor to travel in interstate 
commerce for sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 
2422(a) and 2426(a), and receipt of child pornography, in 
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a) (2) (A) . Cox was due to be 
released from custody on September 27, 2011; however, on July 
12, 2011, the government certified Cox as a sexually dangerous 
person pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4248, thereby staying Cox's 
release from federal custody. 

A. Personal History 

Cox was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, along with 
two older sisters and two younger brothers. Cox's father was 
employed as a restaurant manager. Both of Cox's parents were 
heavy drinkers. Cox reports having witnessed his father rape 
his mother when Cox was seven years old. At the age of twelve, 

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Cox's father died as a result of a ruptured ulcer. His death 
greatly impacted Cox, who has described his life as having ended 
when his father died. 

A year after the death of Cox's father, Cox's mother 
married a Merchant Marine. Cox's step-father was also a heavy 
drinker and verbally and physically abused Cox, his mother, and 
his siblings. 3 Due to the abuse, Cox frequently ran away from 
home. Cox began drinking alcohol at the age of twelve or 
thirteen. 

Cox graduated from high school and joined the United States 
Air Force in 1975. Cox received training in computer operations 
at the Air Force Technical School in Biloxi, Mississippi. Upon 
completion of his training, Cox served as a computer operator 
for five years. Cox was stationed at the Air Force Global 
Weather Central Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, 
Nebraska, for three years and at the Rhein-Main Air Force Base 
in Frankfurt, Germany, for two years. 

In 1980, Cox was court-martialed and dishonorably 
discharged upon his conviction of multiple sex offenses 
involving four minor children. He received a sentence of eight 



3 At one point, his mother was wheelchair bound after having 
been severely beaten and pushed down the stairs by Cox's 
stepfather . 

3 

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years, which he served at Fort Leavenworth. Cox was paroled in 
December 1985. 

In January 1987, Cox married a convicted murderer he had 
met while incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth. The marriage was 
apparently one of convenience. After their release from prison, 
she became pregnant with another man's child. Cox agreed to 
marry her so the child would have a father. Cox and his wife 
lived together for less than one year, then separated. At six 
weeks of age, the child was given to his wife's parents, who 
eventually adopted the baby. 

Cox claims to have had eight prior sexual partners, all 
female. His first sexual experience occurred at the age of 
seventeen or eighteen with a girlfriend of the same age. His 
longest relationship was with a married woman with whom he lived 
from May 1994 to December 1996. His most recent relationship 
was in 1998. Cox also engaged in sexual intercourse with 
prostitutes approximately twelve times while stationed in 
Germany . 

B . Sexual Offense History 

Cox's first criminal conviction was in 1982. On several 
occasions between August 1980 and April 1981, Cox sexually 
assaulted four children he was babysitting while stationed in 
Germany. The victims were all female, ranging in age from seven 

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to eleven. On August 30, 1980, Cox unlawfully struck two of the 
girls on the buttocks with his hand. On that same date, he 
rubbed the genitalia of one of the victims, pulled her pants 
down thereby exposing her genitalia, and inserted one of his 
fingers into her vagina. He forced the other victim to pull her 
pants down and thereupon rubbed her genitalia with his hand. In 
November 1980, Cox rubbed a child's "private parts" with his 
hand while she was clothed for the purpose of sexual 
gratification. On December 23, 1980, Cox took indecent 

liberties with a victim by pulling her pants down, exposing her 
private parts, spreading her legs apart and inserting a candy 
cane into her vagina, which he forced her to lick after he had 
withdrawn it from her vagina. Also on that date, Cox committed 
sodomy upon one of the children by licking her genitalia. In 
April 1981, Cox grabbed a child by the waist and turned her 
upside down with her legs apart with the intent to gratify his 
sexual desires. As a result of these actions, Cox was convicted 
of sodomy of a child under the age of sixteen, three counts of 
assault and battery and six counts of indecent acts with a child 
under the age of sixteen. Cox served five years on an eight- 
year term of imprisonment and was paroled on December 2, 1985. 

While on parole from these offenses, Cox was arrested and 
charged with sexual abuse of a child for an October 1989 

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incident when Cox took two girls (approximately six or. seven 
years old) to the movies, then to a park. Although the charges 
were dismissed with prejudice in September 1991, Cox's parole 
was subsequently revoked as a result of the October 1989 
incident and another incident of alleged touching of a. child 
about which Cox had been questioned by police in June 1991. 
Upon revocation of his parole, Cox was incarcerated at Fort 
Leavenworth from January 1992 until his discharge on December 7, 
1992. 

In or around 1997, Cox became involved in an international 
child pornography network known as the "Brotherhood." The 
Brotherhood operated electronic bulletin boards on which members 
post hyperlinks to child pornography images and web sites, The 
images posted could be exiting images or new images produced by 
the member. The bulletin boards had three main public areas: 
Ranchi, Panty Raiders/Lolita Lovers and Shadows. There are also 
semi-private and private boards which a member can access only 
after having posted a certain number of child pornography images 
and having been promoted within the group. Cox was an 
administrator for the Panty Raiders/Lolita Lovers group for a 
number of years. As an administrator, he helped maintain the 
bulletin board by deleting old or decommissioned child 



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pornography links and policing chats, thereby facilitating the 
international distribution of child pornography. 

In November 2002, Cox began exchanging sexually explicit 
emails with "Brenda," an undercover FBI agent posing as a 
fourteen-year-old girl in an internet chat room named "teen 
flirt." Using the screen name "YoungStuf f , " Cox told "Brenda" 
that he wanted to f*** her and spank her. Cox sent "Brenda" 
emails encouraging her to leave her home in Virginia and come to 
Colorado to be his "sex slave." Cox sent "Brenda" $60.00 for 
bus fare from Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Pueblo, Colorado. Cox 
instructed her to wear a short skirt, red tube top and no bra or 
panties and told her to meet him at a restaurant up the hill 
from the Pueblo bus station on January 10, 2003. 

An undercover officer, dressed as Cox had instructed, got 
off the bus at Pueblo and met Cox at the restaurant. Cox 
identified himself to "Brenda" and was arrested. Cox admitted 
his actions and told the agents that he would have had sex with 
"Brenda" had she been willing. 

Following Cox's arrest, agents conducted a search of Cox's 
home and computer. A forensic examination of the computer 
revealed in excess of 45,000 still images and videos of child 
pornography, including nineteen videos of a man raping, 
sodomizing and sexually abusing his biological daughter, who 

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appeared to be between three and five years of age at the time. 

As a result of this conduct, Cox was charged with attempted 
enticement of a minor to travel in interstate commerce for 
sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2422(a) and 
2426(a); using the mail or interstate commerce to attempt to 
entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, in violation of 18 
U.S.C, §§ 2422(b) and 2426(a); possession of child pornography, 
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A (a) ( 5 ) (B) ; and nineteen counts 
of receiving child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 
2252A(a) (2) (A) . On August 14, 2003, Cox pled guilty in the 
United States District Court for the District of Colorado to 
attempted enticement of a minor to travel in interstate commerce 
for sexual activity and one count of receiving child 
pornography. Cox was subsequently sentenced to 120 months' 
imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Cox has 
been in federal custody since that time. 

Cox completed four years of sex offender treatment while 
incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth. Additionally, he participated 
in outpatient psychotherapy while on parole from 1985 to 1989. 
He has not participated in the sex offender treatment program 
while at FCI Butner. 



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COURT'S DISCUSSION 

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, 
Pub. L. No. 109-248, 120 Stat. 587 (2006), authorizes the 
indefinite civil commitment of, inter alia, individuals in the 
custody of the Bureau of Prisons who are determined to be 
sexually dangerous persons. A "sexually dangerous person" is 
defined by statute as one "who has engaged or attempted to 
engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation and who 
is sexually dangerous to others." 18 U.S.C. § 4247(a)(5). 
"Sexually dangerous to others" means that "the person suffers 
from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder as a 
result of which he would have serious difficulty in refraining 
from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released." 
18 U.S.C. § 4247 (a) (6) . 

To obtain an order civilly committing Cox pursuant to 
§ 4248, the government must prove by clear and convincing 
evidence: (1) that Cox "has engaged or attempted to engage in 
sexually violent conduct or child molestation"; (2) that Cox 
currently "suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, 
or disorder"; and (3) that as a result of the serious mental 
illness, abnormality, or disorder, Cox "would have serious 
difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child 
molestation if released." United States v. Comstock , 627 F.3d 

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513, 515-16 (4th Cir. 2010). Clear and convincing evidence is 
"'evidence of such weight that it produces in the mind of the 
trier of fact a firm belief or conviction, without hesitancy, as 
to the truth of the allegations sought to be established,'" or 
"' evidence that proves the facts at issue to be highly 
probable.'" United States v. Hall , 664 F.3d 456, 461 (4th Cir. 
2012) (quoting Jimenez v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. , 269 F.3d 439, 
450 (4th Cir. 2001) ) . 

I. Sexually Violent Conduct or Child Molestation 

There is no dispute in this case that Cox has previously 
engaged in or attempted to engage in acts of child molestation. 
This is evidenced by his 1982 convictions for sodomy of a child 
under the age of sixteen and indecent acts with a child under 
the age of sixteen, as well as his 2003 convictions for 
attempted enticement of a minor to travel in interstate commerce 
for sexual activity and receiving child pornography. See 2 8 
C.F.R. § 54 9.93 (defining "child molestation" to include "any 
unlawful conduct of a sexual nature with, or sexual exploitation 
of, a person under the age of 18 years"), cited with approval in 
United States v. Comstock , 627 F.3d 513, 520 (4th Cir. 2010). 
Thus, the government has established the first prong of sexual 
dangerousness by clear and convincing evidence. 



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II. Serious Mental Illness, Abnormality or Disorder 

The government has also shown, by clear and convincing 
evidence, that Cox suffers from a serious mental illness, 
abnormality or disorder. The court heard the testimony of three 
forensic psychologists, Drs . Jeffrey Davis, Joseph Plaud and 
Heather Ross, and their reports were entered into evidence. 
( See Petr.'s' Trial Exs . 3, 5, 7). All three of these experts 
found that Cox suffers from pedophilia, sexually attracted to 
females, non-exclusive type, meaning that Cox's sexual 
orientation is directed to both prepubescent and post-pubescent 
females. Cox does not dispute the experts' diagnosis of 
pedophilia. As pedophilia 4 is a "serious mental illness, 
abnormality or disorder" within the meaning of § 4248, the 
government has met its burden as to the second prong. 5 



4 Pedophilia is a paraphilia, the diagnostic criteria for 
which include recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, 
sexual urges or behaviors involving sexual activity with 
prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger) over a 
period of at least six months, which the individual has acted 
upon or which have caused the individual marked distress or 
interpersonal difficulty. American Psychiatric Association, 
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , Fourth 
Edition (Text Revision) . In addition, a diagnosis of pedophilia 
is appropriate only if the individual is at least sixteen years 
old and at least five years older than the child or children. 
Id. 



5 The government urges the court to also find that Cox 
suffers from paraphilia (not otherwise specified) and a 
personality disorder marked by paranoid and narcissistic 
features. In light of its ruling herein, the court declines to 



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III. Serious Difficulty Refraining from Sexually Violent Conduct 
or Child Molestation 



The third prong requires the government to prove, by clear 

and convincing evidencing that Cox, if released, would have 

serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct 

or child molestation as a result of his pedophilia. This prong 

serve [s] to limit involuntary civil confinement to those who 

suffer from a volitional impairment rendering them dangerous 

beyond their control.'" United States v. Hall , 664 F.3d 456, 

463 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting Kansas v. Hendricks , 521 U.S. 346, 

357 (1997)). The government need not establish that the person 

it seeks to commit will or is likely to reoffend. However, 

there must be proof of serious difficulty in 
controlling behavior. And this, when viewed in light 
of such features of the case as the nature of the 
psychiatric diagnosis, and the severity of the mental 
abnormality itself, must be sufficient to distinguish 
the dangerous sexual offender whose serious mental 
illness, abnormality, or disorder subjects him to 
civil commitment from the dangerous but typical 
recidivist convicted in an ordinary criminal case. 

Kansas v. Crane , 534 U.S. 407, 413 (2002). 

The mere presence of a sexual attraction to minors is 

insufficient to meet the "serious difficulty" prong. United 

States v. Carta, No. 07-12064, 2011 WL 2680734 (D. Mass. July 7, 



determine whether these diagnoses apply to Cox or whether they 
constitute a "serious mental illness, abnormality or disorder" 
for purposes of § 4248. 



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2011) , aff 'd , No. 11-1921, 2012 WL 3064842 (1st Cir. July 27, 

2012) . " [I] f the person the government seeks to commit has 
developed the skills necessary to overcome the urge to have 
sexual contact with minors without [serious] difficulty," the 
government fails in meeting its burden as to this prong of the 
test. Id. 

The three experts in this case are unanimous in their 
opinions that Cox will have serious difficulty in refraining 
from engaging in sexually violent conduct if released. Dr. 
Plaud, who was selected as Cox's expert, testified that he 
believes Cox's condition to be chronic. He noted that Cox has 
sexually exploited pre-pubescent girls over a period of two 
decades, that he has a "consistency of behavior," and that the 
treatment he has received has had little effect on Cox. 

According to Dr. Plaud, Cox has expressed no empathy for 
his victims and has failed to acknowledge any wrongdoing on his 
part. With regard to Cox's 1980-1981 sexual assaults, Dr. Plaud 
notes that Cox stated he learned at Fort Leavenworth that his 
"inhibitions were in a state of severe compromise due to a 
number of factors," including pain medication he was taking as a 
result of an automobile accident, the mixing of alcohol with 
those medications, a severe beating suffered by his mother at 
the hands of his step- father, and the trauma he experienced as a 



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result of his father's death and physical abuse by his step- 
father. In his forensic evaluation report, Dr. Plaud notes that 
Cox "focused on the control and anger he was experiencing at the 
time of the assaults, rather than on a primary sexual motivation 
or attraction to pre-pubescent individuals." (Petr.'s Trial Ex. 
7 at 4 . ) 

Dr. Plaud also testified that Cox's explanation of his 2003 
conviction "borders on delusional." Plaud stated that Cox 
blamed his involvement in the internet child pornography ring on 
a work-related accident - that while recovering from an injury 
at home he began spending time on the internet in sexual 
chatrooms, which he claimed to be all adult. Cox described the 
Panty Raiders/Lolita Lovers group he administered as initially 
being of a "softcore nature" and decided to end his involvement 
in the sexual boards when they became harder core. (Petr.'s 
Trial Ex. 7 at 5.) Cox claimed that he wanted to put a stop to 
the exploitation of children and decided to "put into motion 'a 
plan to get busted, so that the Feds could use the computer 
information [he] had'" to prosecute the others involved. 
(Petr.'s Trial Ex. 7 at 5-6.) Cox maintained that he knew 
"Brenda" was a federal agent and that it was because of his plan 
that "we brought the group down," with more than sixty 
individuals being arrested and prosecuted for their involvement 



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in the pornography ring. (Petr.'s Trial Ex. 7 at 6.) Dr. Plaud 
testified that he has seen nothing to indicate to him that Cox 
has changed - that he continues to externalize his behavior 
rather than deal with the reasons underlying his sexual urges 
and behavior. According to Dr. Plaud, Cox has never 

acknowledged his actions were wrong or bad, and Cox's 
minimization of his conduct is so pervasive that it operates as 
a barrier to change . 

Dr. Ross testified that a number of factors indicate that 
Cox has a volitional impairment that puts him at great risk to 
reoffend. She opines that Cox's history is "significant for 
sexual pre -occupation. " (Petr.'s Trial Ex. 5 at 17.) Cox 
suggested to her that viewing pornography "was not a risk factor 
for future hands-on offending for him and noted that interacting 
with the other [internet child pornography] administrators was 
like group therapy' for him." (Petr.'s Trial Ex. 5 at 17.) 
Dr. Ross notes that Cox had repeated contact with one or more 
victims he molested and that his "obsessive involvement" in 
child pornography in the late 1990s through 2003 was a 
"lifestyle" for him. These factors, as well as Cox's limited 
sexual interest or involvement with adults and his lack of 
positive social influences, are factors Dr. Ross considers 
indicative of a lack of volitional control. 

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Dr. Davis also opines that Cox will have serious difficulty 
in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation 
as a result of his pedophilia. Dr. Davis testified that Cox is 
not impulsive but possesses poor problem- solving skills. He 
points out that Cox made no statement of an intent or ability to 
refrain from reoffending and that he would not have any 
confidence in Cox were he to now claim responsibility for his 
prior acts. Dr. Davis finds Cox's more recent offense conduct 
to be particularly troubling since it occurred after Cox had 
been sanctioned for prior similar acts. It is Dr. Davis' 
opinion that, following Cox's court-martial, his paraphilic 
behavior actually escalated, thereby evidencing a volitional 
impairment . 

To assist in their assessment of Cox's risk of sexual 
recidivism, Drs . Davis and Ross utilized a number of actuarial 
instruments. Dr. Ross used the Static- 9 9R and scored Cox in the 
moderate/high or high risk category for reoffending. Dr. Davis 
used the Static-99R, Static-2002R, the Minnesota Sex Offender 
Screening Tool-Revised ( "MnSOST-R" ) , and the Structured Risk 
Assessment-Forensic Version Light ( "SRA: FV/ Light" ) . Dr. Davis 
scored Cox in the moderate/high or high risk category on the 
Static-99R, in the moderate risk category on the Static-2000.2R, 



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in the high risk category on the MnSOST-R, and in the high range 
of the SRA: FV/ Light . 

Drs. Davis and Ross also considered dynamic risk factors 
relevant to sexual offense recidivism using STABLE-2007 . 
Dynamic risk factors are factors that have the capacity to 
change over time, such as with treatment or due to the aging 
process. Both Drs. Davis and Ross identified the following 
dynamic risk factors as increasing Cox's risk of sexual 
recidivism: (1) significant social influences, particularly 
Cox's criminal peer association and the lack of positive social 
influences; (2) intimacy deficits evidenced by Cox's lack of a 
stable relationship and his emotional identification with 
children; and (3) sexual self -regulation based on Cox's long 
history of sexual preoccupation and pronounced deviant sexual 
interests in prepubescent and pubescent girls. In addition, Dr. 
Davis identified as problematic Cox's cooperation with 
supervision in the community based upon Cox's parole revocation, 
although Dr. Davis does credit Cox for cooperating with 
supervision while incarcerated. 

Dr. Plaud utilized the Sexual Violence Risk-20 ("SVR-20"), 
an instrument used to evaluate twenty static and dynamic factors 
or areas of functioning in individuals convicted or alleged to 
have committed a sexual offense. The SVR-20 is used in 

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assessing the risk of sexual offense recidivism, as well in the 
future planning of psychological or behavioral interventions to 
manage or reduce future risk. It is Dr. Plaud's expert opinion 
that Cox "present [s] with a significant pattern of risk factors 
for engaging in sexually recidivistic behavior given the risk 
factors measured by the SVR-20, especially when focus is given 
to dynamic factors as opposed to static or historical factors in 
the risk analysis." (Petr.'s Trial Ex. 7 at 11.) 

Dr. Plaud also administered the Personality Assessment 
Inventory ("PAI") and the International Personality Disorders 
Examination ("IPDE"). The PAI is an objective inventory of 
adult personality used to assess psychopathological syndromes, 
and the IPDE is a diagnostic instrument developed to provide a 
uniform approach for assessing personality disorders. Dr. Plaud 
reports that PAI testing revealed that Cox "tends to portray 
himself as being relatively free of common shortcomings to which 
most individuals will admit, and he also appears somewhat 
reluctant to recognize minor faults in himself." (Petr.'s Ex. 7 
at 12.) Dr. Plaud also notes that IPDE test results reveal that 
Cox exhibits paranoid and narcissistic tendencies which, when 
combined with Cox's paraphilia, suggest an acute and serious 
sexual deviancy that, in Dr. Plaud's opinion, would cause Cox to 
"hav[e] serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent 



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conduct or child molestation if he were released at the present 
time." (Petr.'s Trial Ex. 7 at 10.) 

The experts also examined possible protective factors that 
may decrease Cox's risk of sexual recidivism. These factors 
include (1) residing in the community without sexually offending 
for a significant period of time; (2) having less than fifteen 
years left in the offender's time at risk due to illness or 
physical conditions that significantly decrease the motivation 
and/or ability to sexually reoffend; and (3) the offender's 
advanced age. All of the experts agree that the protective 
factors do not significantly lessen Cox's sexual dangerousness . 

The court concludes that the government has established 
that Cox lacks the volitional control to refrain from sexually 
reoffending. Cox has a long history of sexual deviancy 
involving contact and non-contact offenses with prepubescent and 
pubescent girls. The frequency, severity and variety of his 
offenses are extremely troubling. Cox has not developed the 
skills necessary to overcome his sexually deviant urges 
involving minor children. Instead, he continues to minimize and 
externalize his pedophilic behavior. He has also refused to 
participate in sex offender treatment while in custody. 
Although Cox may be subject to a remaining term of supervised 
release, the court finds the conditions imposed to be 



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insufficient to prevent Cox from engaging in high risk 
activities, such as having contact with minor children. 
Moreover, no evidence has been presented to show that Cox has 
developed a realistic plan for his release 6 or that Cox will even 



concludes that the government has met its burden of proving, by 
clear and convincing evidence, that as a result of his 
pedophilia, Cox will have serious difficulty in refraining from 
sexually violent conduct or child molestation. 



For the foregoing reasons, the court finds that Earl 
Webster Cox is a sexually dangerous person under the Adam Walsh 
Act. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that Earl Webster Cox be 
committed to the custody and care of the Attorney General 
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4248. 

This (7 "day of October 2012 . 



6 Cox reported to Dr. Davis that he plans to open his own 
siding business and has requested placement in a halfway house 
because he presently has no suitable friends or relatives with 
whom to live if released. 



be receptive to sex offender treatment. 



In sum, the court 



CONCLUSION 




Senior United States District Judge 



At Greenville, NC 
#31 . 



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